AP_Unit 9 Developmental Psychology

Term Definition
Developmental Psychology The branch of psychology that systematically focuses on the physical, mental, and social changes that occur throughout the life cycle.
Nature and Nurture Refers to the debate about the relative contribution of genetic inheritance and experiences in our development.
Stability and Change Refers to the debate about whether personality traits present in an individual at birth remain constant or change throughout the lifespan.
Continuity and Stages Refers to the debate whether development is solely and evenly continuous or whether it is marked by age-specific periods. Theories of human development have been criticized for overemphasizing discrete age-linked stages.
Zygote The fertilized egg; it enters a two week period of rapid cell division and develops into an embryo.
Embryo The developing human organism from about two weeks after fertilization through the second month. After 10 days, the embryo attaches to the uterine wall.
Fetus The developing human organism from nine weeks after conception until birth. Nutrients and oxygen are transferred from a mother to a fetus through the placenta.
Teratogen Harmful chemicals or viruses that can be transferred from a mother to her developing fetus. Teratogens can cross the placental barrier and harm an unborn child.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol heavily, she puts her unborn child at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome. Symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome include brain abnormalities.
Rooting Reflex A baby’s tendency to open the mouth in search of a nipple when touched on the cheek.
Sucking Reflex A newborn reflex that involves the steps of tonguing, swallowing, and breathing.
Habituation Decreasing responsiveness to a stimulus to which one is repeatedly exposed. Research on habituation provides evidence that 4-month-old infants possess visual memory capabilities. Newborns can visually discriminate between various shapes and colours.
Novelty Preference Procedure Demonstrates that infants, like adults, focus on the face rather than the body first when viewing images. Infant novelty preferences have been discovered by assessing infants’ habituation.
Mother-Newborn Relationship Newborn infants typically prefer their mother’s voice over because they become familiar with their mother’s voice before they are born. Week-old babies are likely to turn their head toward the smell of their mother’s pad.
Newborn Brain Development Research indicates that infants are born with the most amount of brain cells that they will ever have. Infant’s have limited neural networks. From ages 3 to 6, the brain’s neural networks sprout most rapidly in the frontal lobes.
Maturation Biological growth processes that are relatively uninfluenced by experience. The ordered sequence of motor development is largely due to maturation.
Infant Memory Poor memory for early life experiences results from a baby’s relative lack of maturation. The lack of neural interconnections in the association areas at the time of birth contributes to infantile amnesia.
Jean Piaget Studied how children develop cognition – their abilities to think, know, and remember. Piaget was convinced that the mind of a child develops through a series of stages.
Schema A concept or framework that organizes and interprets information. People’s conceptual frameworks for understanding their experiences.
Assimilation Interpreting new experiences in terms of existing schemas. Interpreting new experiences in terms of one’s current understanding. Incorporating new information into existing theories.
Accommodation Adjusting current schemas in order to make sense of new experiences. Modifying existing theories in light of new information.
Sensorimotor Stage Begins to interact with the environment. Understands her world primarily by grasping and sucking easily available objects. Children understand the world primarily by observing the effects of their own actions on other people, objects, and events.
Object Permanence The awareness that things continue to exist even when they are not perceived.
Preoperational Stage The child begins to represent the world symbolically. A child can represent objects with words and images but cannot reason with logic.
Egocentrism The difficulty perceiving things from another person’s point-of-view. An egocentric child is cognitively limited.
Theory of Mind Children’s ability to infer other people’s intentions and feelings. Piaget overestimated young children’s egocentrism. Premack and Woodruff described chimpanzee’s theory of mind by their ability to read intentions.
Concrete Operational Stage Children acquire the mental operations needed to comprehend such things as mathematical transformations and conservation.The ability to think logically about events first develops. Unlikely to demonstrate the ability to think hypothetically.
Conservation The principle that properties such as mass, volume, and number remain the same despite changes in the forms of objects.
Formal Operational Stage People are first able to reason abstractly and think hypothetically.
Autism Spectrum Disorder A disorder characterized by deficient social interaction and impaired theory of mind.
Simon Baron-Cohen Proposed that autism is indicative of an inborn male systemizing tendency.
Lev Vygotsky Suggested that a child’s mind grows through interaction with the social environment. Through mentoring, adults provide children with scaffolds to help them move to higher levels of thinking.
Zone of Proximal Development Is what a child can and cannot do – it’s what the child can do with help.
Limits of Piaget Underestimated the cognitive capacities of infants. Current research on cognitive development indicates that mental skills develop earlier than Piaget believed. Underestimated the continuity of cognitive development.
Stranger Anxiety At about 8 months, children become increasingly likely to react to newcomers with tears and distress. Infants develop a fear of strangers because they cannot assimilate unfamiliar faces into their schemas.
Attachment The powerful survival impulse that leads infants to seek closeness with their caregivers. Providing children with a save haven in times of stress contributes directly to secure attachment.
Harlow Monkey Experiment Mother-infant bonds result primarily from mothers providing infants with body contact. Infant monkeys raised with a nourishing wire mother and non-nourishing cloth mother preferred the non-nourishing cloth mother.
Critical Period A phase during which certain events have a particularly strong impact on development.
Imprinting The process by which certain birds form attachments during a critical period very early in life. Children do not imprint. Their fondness for certain people is fostered by mere exposure.
Secure Attachment In a pleasant but unfamiliar setting, infants with secure maternal attachment are most likely to use their mothers as a base to explore new surroundings. Responsive parenting contributes most positively to the development of secure attachment.
Insecure Attachment Infants with insecure maternal attachment are most likely to show indifference to their mother’s return after a brief absence. A mother who is slow in responding to infant’s cries of distress are most likely to encourage insecure attachment.
Attachment Differences Many young children with divorced or unmarried parents have been deprived of parental care and attention which puts them at increased risk for insecure attachment. Feeding practices can contribute to differences in attachment.
Temperament A person’s characteristic emotional reactivity and intensity. The labels “easy”, “difficult” and “slow-to-warm-up” are used to refer to differences in infant temperament. A child’s temperament is likely to be stable over time. Genetically predisposed.
Erikson and Attachment Children of responsive parenting develop secure attachments and form a lifelong attitude of basic trust toward the world.
Monkeys (Attachment) Monkeys raised in total isolation became incapable of mating upon reaching sexual maturity andhave been observed to become very fearful or aggressive when brought into close contact with other monkeys their age.
Golden Hamsters (Attachment) Golden hamsters that are repeatedly threatened and attacked while young grow up to be cowards when caged with same-sized hamsters and they suffered long-term changes in brain chemistry.
Abuse (Attachment) Research indicates that most abusive parents report that they themselves were battered and neglected as children. Severe and prolonged sexual abuse places children at risk for substance abuse.
Foster Care (Attachment) Foster care that moves a young child through a series of foster families is most likely to result in the disruption of attachment.
Daycare (Attachment) Family poverty increases the likelihood of receiving both lower-quality day care and authoritarian parenting. Problem behaviours are more likely to be associated with a child’s temperament than with the amount of time the child spends in day care.
Authoritarian Parents impose rules without explanation, are inflexible, and demand unquestioning obedience. They may use harsh discipline.
Permissive Parents who make few demands on their children and use little punishment.
Authoritative Parents who are demanding yet sensitively responsive to their children. They are likely to have children who have high self-esteem and are self-reliant.
Western Parenting Teach children to value nonconformity, personal independence, and to participate in household activities.
Female Differences Women experience a greater risk of eating disorders. The average woman is more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Women are more likely to talk with others to explore relationships and show obvious signs of interdependence
Male Differences More men than women engage in fistfights. In everyday behaviour, men are LESS likely than women to smile at others. Globally, more men than women are in political leadership positions.
Male Answer Syndrome Suggests that males are less likely than females to demonstrate social modesty.
Role Behaviours expected by those who occupy a particular social position.
Gender Role Refers to a set of expected behaviours for males and females. The social roles assigned to women and men differ widely across cultures.
Gender Identity The sense of being male or female.
Social Learning Theory (Gender) The theory that we learn social behaviour by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished.
Gender Typing The acquisition of a traditional masculine or feminine roles is called gender typing. Children’s tendency to classify toys and songs as either masculine or feminine.
Gender Schemas Children tend to organize their worlds into male and female categories. Gender typing is a product of established gender schemas.
Transgender People whose sense of gender identity or gender expression differs from that typical of their birth sex.
Brain Development and the Environment A stimulating environment is most likely to facilitate the development of a child’s neural connections. Repeated learning experiences seem to strengthen neural connections at the location that processes the experiences.
Pruning The selective loss of unused neural connections among brain cells. Lacking any exposure to language before adolescence, a person will never master any language due to the pruning of unemployed neural connections.
Parenting and Behaviour Children’s temperaments influence parents’ child-rearing practices and should inhibit our tendency to blame parents for our own dysfunctional characteristics. Children raised in the same family are not expected to have similar personalities.
Selection Effect Leads kids to choose peers who share their own attitudes and interests as friends. Evolutionary psychologists believe that sensitivity to peer influence is genetically predisposed because it has facilitated the process of human mating.
Adolescence A phase of development that extends from the beginning of sexual maturity to independent adulthood.
Puberty The period of rapid physical development and the onset of reproductive capability.
Boys Puberty Boys who mature at an early age tend to be more popular and self-assured.
Girls Puberty Girls who mature at an early age tend to be the object of some teasing.
Adolescence Brain Development During adolescence, maturation of the frontal lobe lags behind maturation of the limbic system. The improved judgment and impulse control that occur as adolescents grow older is made possible by the development of the frontal lobes.
Lawrence Kohlberg Developed a theory of moral development. Emphasized that children’s moral judgments build on their cognitive development.He emphasized that human behaviour becomes less selfish as we mature.
Pre-Conventional Stage Morality based on the avoidance of punishment and the attainment of concrete rewards. Based on self-interest.
Conventional Stage Morality is based on a desire to uphold the laws of society.
Post-Conventional Stage Involves affirmation of self-defined ethical principles. Requires formal operational thought. Found in cultures that value individualism.
Social Intuitionist Theory Emphasizes that immediate gut-level feelings often precede and influence our moral reasoning.
Moral Action Character education programs teach children to experience empathy. Immorality often results from social influence. Learning to delay gratification promotes moral action. Moral action feeds moral attitudes.
Identity Our sense of self. According to Erikson, the adolescent’s task is to solidify a sense of self by testing and integrating various roles.
Social Identity The “we” aspect of our self-concept; the part of our answer to “Who am I?” that comes from our group memberships. As individuals progress through their teen years into early adulthood, their self-concepts typically become more positive.
Adolescent and Parent Relationship Most adolescents like their parents. Adolescents and their parents usually agree about religious and political beliefs and career and college choices.
Rite of Passage An elaborate ceremony used to celebrate a person’s emergence into adulthood.
Emerging Adulthood A developmental stage between adolescent dependence and responsible adulthood.
Age of Adolescence In industrialized societies adolescence begins earlier in life and ends later in life. Today’s earlier female sexual maturation is especially likely among overweight girls in father-absent homes.
Primary Sex Characteristics The body structures (ovaries, testes, and external genitalia) that make sexual reproduction possible.
Secondary Sex Characteristics Nonreproductive sexual traits, such as female breasts and hips, male voice quality, and body hair.
X Chromosome The sex chromosome found in both men and women. Females have two X chromosomes; male have one.
Y Chromosome The sex chromosome found only in males. When paired with an X chromosome from the mother, it produces a male child.
Testosterone The most important of the male sex hormones. Both males and females have it, but the additional testosterone in males stimulates the growth of the male sex organs in the fetus and the development of the male sex characteristics during puberty.
Intersex Individuals who are both with incomplete or unusual combinations of male and female physical features.
Adolescent Sexual Activity Rates of adolescent sexual intercourse are similar in Western Europe and Latin America. Sexually active unmarried teens are more likely to use contraceptives if they are in an exclusive sexual relationship involving open communication.
Teen Pregnancy Lower rates of pregnancy have been observed among teens who have participated in a service learning program as tutors or teachers’ aides. Girls with fathers present are less likely to experience teen pregnancy.
Sexual Orientation – Environment Research on the environmental conditions that influence sexual orientation indicates that the reported backgrounds of homosexuals and heterosexuals are similar.
Sexual Orientation – Biology Simon LeVay discovered that a neural cluster located in the hypothalamus was larger in heterosexual men than homosexual men. Brain differences originate at the time of or even before birth.
Fraternal Birth Order Effect The more older brothers a man has increases the chance that he will be gay especially if right-handed. This is the result of the maternal immune system.
Sexual Orientation – Genetics Research on the causes of homosexuality suggests that genetic influence plays a role in sexual orientation. By manipulating a single gene, scientists have been able to control sexual orientation in fruit flies.
Menopause The time of natural cessation of menstruation when women are no longer able to become pregnant. Menopause is associated with a reduction in estrogen.
Aging The symptoms of physiological degeneration that accompany old age in humans are a genetically predisposed outcome. Aging cells may die without being replaced due to the shortening of telomeres.
Death Deferral Phenomenon The increase in death rates among older people when they reach a life milestone such as a birthday.
Physical Changes in Later Adulthood Older people are NOT increasingly susceptible to common cold viruses. As people progress through late adulthood, they typically experience a slight decrease in brain weight.
Cognitive Changes in Later Adulthood Most 20-year-olds outperform most 70-year-olds on video games because of age-related differences in information-processing speed. Older adults are most likely to show a decline in their ability to remember nonsense syllables.
Cross-Sectional Study A study in which people of different ages are compared with one another.
Longitudinal Study Research in which the same people are restudied and retested over a long period. The idea that adult intelligence declines with age has been challenged most effectively by longitudinal research.
Adulthood's Ages and Stages Adults are less likely to divorce in their early forties than in their early twenties. Adults are less likely to commit suicide in their early forties than in their early seventies.
Social Clock The culturally preferred time to leave home, marry, have children, and retire.
Adulthood's Commitments Research on premarital cohabitation most strongly suggests that their marriage will have a higher than average probability of ending in divorce. heterosexual adults are genetically predisposed to form monogamous bonds.
Well-being Across the Lifespan There is little relationship between the age of an adult and his or her level of life satisfaction. Young and older adults report being slightly happier than middle-aged adults.
Terminal Decline Phenomenon A decrease in mental ability that accompanies the approach of death.
Death and Dying The sense of integrity achieved in late adulthood refers to the feeling that one’s life has been meaningful. During the time following the death of a loved one, those who express the strongest grief immediately do not purge their grief more quickly.